University of Memphis won't proceed with $3k offer for infusing equity into courses, governor says

University of Memphis won't proceed with $3k offer for infusing equity into courses, governor says

January 11, 2022

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The University of Memphis will not proceed with offering faculty $3,000 as part of a controversial program to infuse ideas like “equity” into their courses, Gov. Bill Lee, R-Tenn., reportedly said.

The Washington Free Beacon reported on Saturday that Lee said the university “informed my office that the initiative will not move forward.”

“We welcome robust debate on college campuses, but taxpayer dollars should never be used to fuel a divisive, radical agenda,” he added.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee speaks with reporters in Nashville on Nov. 10, 2020.
(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)

Lee’s comments came shortly after the proposal initially surfaced in the Beacon. The outlet had obtained an all-faculty email showing the university offering a $1,500 stipend after professors redesigned their curricula, with another $1,500 after teaching the redesigned course. According to the email, 15-20 faculty members were supposed to be selected for the program, which would have begun in spring 2022.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., told Fox News Digital last week that the program was an inappropriate use of taxpayer funds.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington on Sept. 29, 2021.
(Tom Williams/Pool via REUTERS)

“The university should be encouraging their students to be independent thinkers, expanding their world view, learning how to be lifelong learners and respectful of all,” said Blackburn in a statement provided to Fox News Digital on Tuesday. 

“Taxpayer dollars should not be used to fund a woke social justice agenda.”

Logo for the University of Memphis (screenshot/uofmemphisvideos/youtube)

The university did not respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

The email read: “This announcement offers a competitive grant opportunity designed to support faculty who are interested in redesigning and aligning existing course syllabi with the goals established by the workgroup entitled, Infusing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Social Justice into Existing Courses/Curriculum.”

That working group links to a report emphasizing the need for anti-racism, a term popularized by controversial author Ibram Kendi. 

It includes a call to “[e]stablish funding to incentivize faculty and instructors to enroll in cultural competency workshops focused on race and racism, designing anti-racist syllabi, and developing skills and appropriate dispositions for facilitating anti-racist classroom discussion.”

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